Make Your Own Maps | What I Learned From My First Open Relationship
When we don’t know how to move forward in any phase of life, it’s tempting to follow the maps others for a successful career and loving relationships, but I don’t know about you, I’m tired of the norm. I’m tired of convention, cubicles, and rejecting our deepest desires.
For me, at the beginning of my non-corporate career, I wanted to travel the world in a van with a sexy, adventurous man who would do yoga with me while building my business and spending as much time in Mama Nature as possible.
There no societal maps for that... To get to my own inspiring destinations, I had to ask myself simple question over and over again and earnestly seek the answer: What do I truly want?
Enter my wildest dream and my first open relationship
In the fall on 2015, I started my own business and moved out of my house in Denver to be fully nomadic. My first destination was an acroyoga festival in Portland. As I entered the fest, this guy with a goofy smile and funny accent appeared out of nowhere me. “Hi,” he said.
Weeks later, we had traveled all over from Portland to San Francisco. We swam in Lake Tahoe in October. It was freezing. Then, we made a fire and made out over neuroscience books in the loft of a cabin surrounded by redwoods. I dropped him off at the airport in SF. He wrote me a letter from the plane about how golden my skin looked in the frozen water that day. I thought he was the most magical person I’d ever met.
He had a girlfriend. I had other lovers. How does this relationship even work? It felt impossible, but I was unexplainably, senselessly all in.
Saying “Fuck It” to Conventional Norms
I told people about my new relationship and nomadic lifestyle. I listened to questions like, “So, you just let your boyfriend go on dates with other women?” “How long do you think you can sustain yourself galavanting around the world?” “Sooo you’re technically homeless…?”
At first, I got a little flustered by these statements, but at the end of the day, I just got angry at these ridiculous conventional norms which try to keep us “safe”, but instead rob us of the joy of having unique, mind-blowing experiences.
What Our Fears Actually Say
However, underneath all of the critique, my fear was hiding. I had to get over all my self-judgement around people thinking that I was desperate or loose or noncommittal or that I was poor and couldn’t afford a house.
As I considered a two month trip to Australia, I had a really honest productive dialogue with my fear. I encourage you to do this from time to time. Here’s how it went:
Fear: I want a sure thing and I’m afraid that this won’t turn out like we want.
Higher Self: Yes, it’s unlikely that anything will turn out just like our expectations.
Fear: Okay, and I don’t want to get hurt, it’s the worst.
Higher Self: Noted. I don’t want that either.
Fear: I don’t want to come back home broken and feel like we have failed.
Higher Self: Well, I don’t believe in failure. We don’t fail; we just learn.
But what I want doesn’t make “sense”…
One thing I can say for sure - following your passion(aka falling in love with life) never makes sense at the beginning.
Despite all my inner dialogue, I felt the shores of a distant land calling me. Is this completely ridiculous? Maybe, but it’s what I want. So, I bought a ticket.
…and nothing turns out like you plan.
Three months later, I cried when I saw the turquoise water. He met me at baggage claim and something was off. The next day, these words just sort of spilled out of his month, “I met another woman and I’m in love with her.”
I was shocked. I sat there, frozen, jaw on the floor,
He repeated, “I’m in love with her, but I want to be with you right now.”
And I wanted to be with him too, so we committed to navigate these scary and painful waters. I gave this human my permission and blessing to follow his heart and I had to face my biggest fear of being alone.
Fear is the best teacher I’ve found.
trying to become “her”
I’m still human, though. I compared myself to this woman in ever way and tried to better than her, so that he would stay. I put on a really good show. I was a loving, patient partner. I communicated perfectly per the polyamory handbook. I was deeply committed my yoga practice. I ate well, worked out all the time, attempted to impress his family with my charm. I was the best version of myself…. for him.
Then, I got to thinking… Couldn’t I just be the best version of myself for me?
Finding Myself with Source energy
In the days and weeks that followed, I became my own resource. While he smiled over her texts, I wrote in my journal. While they went on dates and my anxiety skyrocketed, I meditated. When I wanted to meet her, I invited her into our place and took deep breaths through our first conversation.
When I wanted to runaway from everything, I swam in waterfalls. I continued to listen to the same voice that brought me all this way and I heard the needs of my soul.
The game changer - I just learned to fulfill those needs on my own.
This took the emphasis off my circumstances. I was responsible for creating my dreams. As a result, my partner and I were able to fall more deeply in love.
I still wanted to go on epic adventures all over Oz. So we did. We went to an island on the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeled with sharks, illegally camped on a park ranger’s land. We sang in clear creaks in the rainforest, skinny-dipped, had hilarious fights on late night car rides. He led me on my first multi-pitch climb over the ocean which ended with a hike out under a full moon. We stayed in a raw cabin, drank damiana tea and drifted into dreamland together.
I became my own Muse, my own source of inspiration.
On my last day in Australia, I wrote…
“To become a woman, to stand on my own two feet, to be strong and centered, self-aware and self-reliant… I’ve learned how to listen to my body, to acknowledge my feelings not as they should be, but as they are. I’ve learned the love doesn’t keep score or try to even the till, it just gives and gives and gives… Love is a quality of presence and nothing more. It ebbs and flows like the waves, but comes from the source, a source that is never ending… I now know there is never a moment wasted by looking someone in their soul and sharing the window of the heart. It is never unwise to be honest about the state of things, internally, to know them, we must sit with them, lay with them, cuddle and caress our longings until it becomes clear what is needed, then the practice will speak to us and waking becomes easy. Moving becomes simple because there is something greater than convention that guides our way. I’ve learned how to respect the boundaries of another, that I am not the center of the Universe, just the center of my Universe. Fight for your right to feel, to think, to love, to be, to get what you need.”
Reading it now, I’m still floored by the way I was able to lean into this uncharted territory.
make your own maps
I didn’t tell you this long, sappy story to entertain you or explain how “strong” and “self-aware” I am, because that’s not how it went. It was hard as hell. I had no idea what I was doing. I just kept going and I didn’t give up
There’s always a “her”; there is always someone who does it “better” than you, someone who has her career more figured out…
But babe, nobody does life like you do. You are an inspiration, a Divine Creative force. You are everything. You don’t need to be “the one”. You don’t need to have it all together. Just keep going and keep listening.
Make your own map and break the rules…
To create these new maps, lean into your practice.
Use whatever tools you have.
Try it one way, then try it a hundred other ways. Life is one big experiment; you can’t get it wrong.
Be the explorer. Go everywhere; see everything. You’ll find your own way.
Be the rebel. Have courage, so that the next generation can follow their heart more easily.
Commit to your practice. Commit to you.
If you do this, at the very least, you will find new, uncharted realms and, along the way, you just might find the life of your dreams.
Sending you all the magic and strength for this adventure!